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Neurobehavioral properties of chemical sensitivity syndromes

  [ 45 votes ]   [ Discuss This Article ]
By Weiss B • • April 18, 1998

Chemical sensitivity Syndromes refers to aggregations of symptoms
marked by largely subjective neurobehavioral complaints and
hypothesized links to immune system dysfunction. The entities
reviewed here consist of the Multiple Chemical Sensitivity
Syndrome, the Sick Building Syndrome, the Chronic Fatigue
Syndrome, and the Gulf War Syndrome. Except for the Chronic
Fatigue Syndrome, toxic chemical exposures are accorded a
significant role in their etiology. The connections are
ambiguous because of the variety of chemical agents cited and,
for the most part, the relatively low levels at which
exposures occur. Conventional clinical signs are also
typically lacking. Explanatory mechanisms include psychiatric
diagnoses such as somatization, behavioral mechanisms such as
conditioning and generalization, neuropharmacological
mechanisms such as sensitization, and psychoneuroimmunological
mechanisms such as those involving the
hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis. Laboratory animal
experimentation and controlled clinical trials, especially
with inhaled material, provide the means for exploring the
proffered explanations.

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